ERIC Number: ED274777
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1986-Oct
Reference Count: 0
Adult Learning in Self-Help/Mutual Aid Support Groups.
Hammerman, Myrna Lynn
Although the origins of self-help groups can be traced back to early history, the self-help movement as we know it today began almost 50 years ago. Approximately 15 million Americans currently belong to about 500,000 different self-help groups. Adults in transition are likely to seek both formal and informal sources of help when faced with changing life circumstances. Although people who seek self-help within their social network appear to represent a cross section of the general population, those who eventually go to human services tend to be white, young, educated, middle class, and female. The number of inner-city residents and minority group members is surprisingly low. Although many self-help groups have been founded by professionals, most are based on principles of mutual aid and use important and effective mechanisms for learning that are very different from those that most professionals use in private practice. The self-help process involves a number of components, including an empowering self-help philosophy, a support dimension, a therapeutic aspect, a spiritual or missionizing element, and an educational component. Self-help groups tend to take on very diverse oganizational forms, with very different degrees of formal versus informal structure and very different ways and degrees of involving professionals in their activities. Regardless of the form it takes, however, the self-help group can serve as an important forum for self-directed adult learning throughout the life span. (MN)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education (Hollywood, FL, October 1986).